How “Living It Forever” Almost Died

The Newport Beach Film Festival kicks off tomorrow night, and Living It Forever–an enlightening documentary about the pioneering surfers of Newport Beach's 22nd Street–is already such a hot ticket that two Lido Theatre screenings have been scheduled for April 28–the night before the 2010 fest run ends.

Not bad when you consider the project, which the Weekly plugged here, almost suffered a debilitating setback.

Writer-director Ann Chatillon and her producer-husband Rick Chatillon went to the island state where surfing was born to snag an important interview for their film.

This being a super-indie production–she called it her videographer husband's “passion project”–the Newport Beach couple of course made the trip on their own dime. 

word-of-mouth, they had tracked down Joe Quigg–who along with Dale Velzy
and Pat Curren was one of Newport Beach's surfboard-shaper
pioneers–now living on the main island of Hawaii, Oahu.

“Rick always looked up to him,” Ann says of Quigg.

after making interview arrangements over the phone with Quigg, packing all their film and sound gear, flying to Oahu and
stepping off the plane to go directly to the Outrigger Canoe Club for
their scheduled meeting, the couple learned they had been stood up.

Still in shock–and much lighter in the wallet–the
Chatillons regrouped, deciding on the spot to locate other early
Newport Beach surfers they had previously understood now live in the Hawaiian Islands–just not Oahu.

That decision would bring them their film's title and most emotional interview.

being interviewed on one side of Maui, early surfer/Harbor High
ditcher/Lido Bridge backflipper Tom Miller told the couple Ilima Kalama, who surfed out of Newport Beach back when he won the 1962 United State Surfing Association (USSA)
crown, played golf daily at the municipal course on the opposite
side of the island.

So, the Chatillons packed up the gear again and
schlepped over to the course.

The golf course starter told them that since
Kalama always went out early in the morning, he should be approaching
the clubhouse in about an hour. And they wouldn't be able to miss him,
they were told, because Kalama was the only golfer dressed all in red.

a dark-skinned man in a red shirt reached the clubhouse, the Chatillons
introduced themselves, told him about their film project and asked if
they could interview him. Kalama said to give him a half hour to clean up. They met near his trailer on the beach in the funky town of Paia.

(Dave Kalama, Ilima's son, and his big wave-riding buddy Laird
often jet-ski out to the waves from the senior Kalama's surf shack.)

As Kalama's interview began, Ann decided something wasn't quite right. She complimented the former surfing
champ on what good shape he is still in and asked if he would remove
his shirt. Kalama complied, and he appears is in the film sitting on
the beach with a large “Aloha” tattoo on the right side of his chest

During his onscreen interview, he talks about the surfing life and “living it forever.” Remembering his old Newport Beach
surfer buddies, Kalama chokes up, giving the documentary a nice jolt of

“He couldn't have been sweeter,” says Ann.

Chatillons wound up flying to three Hawaiian Islands on the same day,
renting three cars along the way, and paying for it all out of their
own pockets.

“It was an expensive trip,” Ann says.

Audiences will be richer for it.

Living It Forever screens Wednesday, April 28, at Regency Lido Theatre in Lido Village. Go here for tickets to the 7 p.m. screening or here for the 9 p.m. show.

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